Rishi Sunak Leads a Tumultuous United Kingdom


Photo source: India Today

By Naveed Qazi, Editor, Globe Upfront

Rishi Sunak became prime minister of the United Kingdom in October 2022 amid a serious political disorder. He has been UK’s third prime minister in less than seven weeks’ time. But nevertheless, as he is the first prime minister of colour in the United Kingdom, several political analysts thought that his win as prime minister is their Barack Obama moment. It made former cabinet minister, Sajid Javid remark: ‘Britain is the most successful multiracial democracy on Earth and proud of this historic achievement.’ Although Pankaj Mishra in an adverse criticism in his Guardian Oped called him just an upper caste Hindu who is against alcohol and beef eating, and that now snotty-nosed racists like him will try to present themselves as ‘purveyors of racial diversity.’

Sunak’s fate took a turn when he tried to replace Boris Johnson but he came narrowly behind Liz Truss in the summer of 2022. As Truss staged two embarrassing budget U-turns, scrapping tax cuts for the richest earners and on company profits, it sent shockwaves into the UK economy. It forced her to resign only after forty-four days in office, the shortest time for any British prime minister in history.

Her resignation gave Sunak another reason to taste power as prime minister. Luck also favoured him as Boris Johnson stopped his campaign for a second tenure. With this, he became the youngest British prime minister in history in this century at the age of 42.

An Oxford-educated son of immigrant parents, he first worked at Goldman Sachs and also as a former hedge fund partner. After marrying the daughter of Infosys co-founder Murthy, he was valued at 730 million pounds, becoming the richest member of the British parliament, making him even richer than King Charles.

Although, the critics in their assertions haven't shied away to conclude that his appointment is a ‘vampire-like return of Boris Johnson from the political grave’. They also think that Sunak will be a continuer of Truss’s policies which were about massive government borrowing from global financial oligarchs, including tax rises. In fact, some of his own circles in the Conservative party call him ‘illegitimate’ with no mandate of any kind. ‘Some even think Sunak has organised some sort of globalist Remainer conspiracy, encompassing the civil service, the “mainstream media”, the Bank of England, the IMF, the City, Wall Street and the trading rooms of east Asia,’ wrote Sean O’Grady in Independent.

It is an unholy pattern. His predecessor, Truss comically paraded effective economic plans, titled ‘mini-budget’, and promised ‘biggest plans in generations’, sending a clear signal that her government was interested in the economic prosperity of the British people, only to ditch them later.

There are also distinct affirmations coming from the UK press that Sunak does not reflect the common lives of immigrants, south Asians in particular. It is because he is not from London, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Leeds, Bristol, Sheffield, or towns like Luton, Blackburn, or Wolverhampton, to which Asians came to work since the last century. He is actually from Southampton, which is far more homogeneous, for an ethnic minority life. So, in that sense, he can’t truly reflect the immigrant lives that most of them have endured.

Sunak also has tough days ahead, as millions of workers are pushing for strike action, as more and more poverty engulfs them. Just like Labour, factional divisions are also tearing Tories apart, which he has to eventually pacify. It is also cynical that a party which has introduced the most racist campaign in British history, including ‘Little England’, a noisome manifestation of British nationalism that led to Brexit, to restore its colonial glories, talks of multiracial pluralism. In fact, the Conservatives are also a party that drafted a debatable report where it is concluded that institutional racism doesn’t exist in British society. Is now Sunak’s appointment a face-saving exercise for the world? It doesn’t seem so because he has wholeheartedly supported those policies and other right-wing rants.

Sunak remains deeply out of touch with reality, in a country, he will soon run. Only an assuring accent won’t calm the financial markets. He seems to be a devotee to small-state Thatcherism, with no visible concern for the poorest. In March 2020, he promised to bring family benefits in line with inflation. Will he deliver on it now, or was it only a lie, an empty talk? The poor in Britain are in dire need of welfare because, without it, around 1.3 million would fall into poverty. And his general response to it in private was: ‘there’s no magic money tree.’ The other bad news is that he has plans for other rounds of austerity.

After twelve years in power, the Tories are almost out of ideas. It is evident from their systemic failures, as demand for food banks is outstripping supply, and social spending is drastically cut. At one point in time, Tories were known to have good political sense, with their cautious pragmatism and financial sobriety, which now it seems has all been eroded out. The Tories of today are synonymous with chaos, and it is leading to the ruination of Britain.

This decay made Peter Oborne write in New York Times: ‘Like the Republicans in the United States, the Conservatives are detached from reality. In a generation, they have become a party of monomaniacs, incompetents and ideologues. Like a thoroughbred that has run one race too many, it needs putting out to grass.’




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